In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Could Paris Happen Here?," Steven Simon and Daniel Benjamin, authors of "The Age of Sacred Terror" (I've read it, and it's on a shelf in front of my computer as I type this blog entry), would have us know that American anxiety over terror attacks similar to those in Paris are "unwarranted" and "no one should panic." Simon and Benjamin contend:
"The slaughter in France depended on four things: easy access to Paris, European citizens happy to massacre their compatriots, a Euro-jihadist infrastructure to supply weapons and security agencies that lacked resources to monitor the individuals involved. These are problems the United States does not have — at least not nearly to the degree that Europe does, undermining its ability to defend itself.
. . . .
It appears the Paris attacks involved both Middle Eastern operatives and Muslims from France and Belgium. But some high-profile exceptions aside, American Muslims are much less attracted to the Islamic State and its ideology than European Muslims seem to be. Americans have traveled to ISIS-controlled territories at a rate of roughly a third that of their European Union coreligionists.
Yes, some of the worst attacks of recent years here at home have been by deeply alienated Muslims, including Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and the Tsarnaev brothers, perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. But the incidence of such malcontents is lower than in Europe, whose larger Muslim communities, social science data shows, are markedly less integrated.
Although European governments have been working to ameliorate grievances, European Muslims remain poorer, more ghettoized and more discriminated against than American Muslims, whose levels of education and income mirror those of the entire American population."
Or stated otherwise, American homeland security has improved markedly since 9/11, American Muslims are more integrated than their European co-religionists, and there is significantly less reason to worry. I disagree. Sure, Simon has degrees from Harvard, Columbia and Princeton, and Benjamin has degrees from Harvard and Oxford, but in my opinion (I worked a "bit" in counter-terrorism, and the West should be focused on choking off the flow of funding to the Islamic State via Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait), they're ignoring key factors weighing against their conclusion.
First, these Islamic State f*ckers (a term of art used widely in academia) are as shrewd as they are vicious. For example, they can beat US airport security and American passport checks. (Compare American airport security staffing with the highly motivated students doing the job in Israel.)
Second, American Muslims are not as "passive" as Simon and Benjamin would have us believe. As reported by the Pew Research Center in an August 30, 2011 article entitled "Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism," eight percent of US Muslims believe that suicide bombing can "often/sometimes" be justified. Now that's a relief! If you randomly place 100 American adult Muslims in a room, only eight of them think that it's "often/sometimes" justified to blow you to kingdom come.
But why rely only on Pew? In a June 2015 poll of 600 Muslim-Americans, The Polling Company determined:
- If shariah conflicts with the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, 33 percent answered that shariah "should be considered supreme."
- 36 percent declared that Muslims in the US should be free to choose courts or tribunals in the US that apply shariah law, whereas 15 percent opined that Muslims in the US should be subject only to shariah courts.
- 29 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that "violence against those that insult the prophet Mohammad, the Qur'an, or Islamic faith is sometimes acceptable."
- 25 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that "Violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad."
- 19 percent believed that "the use of violence in the United States is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in this country."
- Nine percent believed that the beliefs of the Islamic State are "correct and consistent with shariah."
- Eight percent believed that the beliefs of al-Qaeda are "correct and consistent with shariah."
Having perused these numbers, are you feeling better? I'm not.
Sorry to disagree, boys, but it's coming.